Governments to Buy up Hundreds of Millions of Doses of Swine Flu Vaccine

The government has rejected accusations it should have introduced the national swine flu helpline in England sooner.

Ministers are expected to be criticised by the Lords' science and technology committee for being too slow to set up the National Pandemic Flu Service.

But Health Minister Gillian Merron said the service could only be launched when levels of infection were "significant" , BBC News reports.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health said a woman with swine flu in the Prince William County health district has died.

Although the cause of death has not been confirmed, the H1N1 virus "appears to be a factor," health officials said. The patient, whose name and age were not released, had an underlying health condition that put her at greater risk for complications from the flu. Health officials and family members have decided not to do an autopsy , Washington Post reports.

However, governments are scrambling to buy up hundreds of millions of doses of swine flu vaccine but health experts warn the poor may lose out as wealthy countries corner strictly limited supplies.

The World Health Organisation has unofficially estimated that the world's labs may only be able to produce around 900 million doses for the A(H1N1) strain per year, for a planet that is home to 6.8 billion people , AFP reports.